The most dismal charts I’ve seen lately do not represent rising sea levels or multiplying extinctions. Responding to a lazy BuzzFeed post that dismissed the absence of any black artists from the Billboard Hot 100's summit during 2013 - the first time that’s happened in the 55-year history of the singles chart—as a statistical "aberration," the blogger David Lee looked up data displaying a clear trend. His graphs show that the demographics of a given year's biggest 20 hits have become ever whiter since 2008, with the share of crossovers from Billboard's separate Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart (what is primly called "urban radio") cratering similarly.
Blame the EDM-driven pop dominating this decade: "Radio say 'speed it up,' I just go slower," as Beyoncé taunted. Blame the flawed Billboard methodology itself, which gives entire music videos and viral-meme snippets the same weight in its streaming songs tally. Blame a hundred other unmappable glitches and vagaries of the precarious music industry. Maybe most of all, blame the parallel economic marginalization of African Americans, who have less income to spend on those crucial iTunes sales. Four black women have reached the Top 10 this decade, and that's counting Whitney Houston, who seems symbolic in the grimmest possible way.